Bespoke camera bags
Is it just me or does the off-the-shelf bags and packs never seem to fit the bill? I mean, few cameras are as square as the velcroed compartments of the ready made stuff, and god forbid if you happen to carry anything but a (d)SLR, or even worse, what if you carry multiple camera systems, sometimes of different formats! Has somebody else cursed and clenched their fists in their pockets?
Right now I'm doing a project in which I use a 35 mm rangefinder with three lenses, a TLR, a few flashes and a sound recorder (a DAT with binaurals, headphones and a stereomic, retro as I am), plus the ever present films, notebooks, pens, tradeback books and whatnot. I just cant seem to find something that can hold and/or organise my gear in an orderly and efficient manner. Specially as I don't want a gear bag that looks like a gear bag.
My idea now is to either make a bag myself (have done that before, but it was a long time ago, and I don't have threephase power for my sewing machine right now), or find somebody who can do bespoke gear bags. Does anybody know of anybody who does this? What would you pay for a customised bag?
I use a canvas bag that I got for free, it has 2 straps for hand carry, and one long strap with metal hardware for shoulder carry. On the inside bottom I have attached a 1x1 ft square of egg carton foam that had adhesive backing that I had around. A front pocket holds my film, a plastic ziploc bag (for cold weather or rain), spare hearing aid batteries, and a lens pen. It's been holding up well to everyday use and inconspicuous around the city. When I need to carry another lens I toss it into a lowepro small lens case before putting it into the bag.
You seem to be carrying a lot of gear, maybe you should ditch the bags and get a rolling case? If you are just shooting around on the street I suggest you trim down what you carry.
When I shoot events I carry a packed lowepro sling bag that fits body with lens and flash bracket, 2 speedlites, 2 lenses, cables and diffuser, etc.
I get my bags at Cabela's, I bought a small sport bag with dividers and zippered compartments on close=out for $9.95, fits a pair of Yashica TLR's and accessories. The bag is made of balistic nylon and not over padded, not heavy. Bought the matching giant size one for my LF gear, works perfectly. I can fit two small collapsable coolers in the bottom for exposed and fresh film holders, plus plenty of space for everything else.
What is a master but a master student? And if that's true, then there's a responsibility on you to keep getting better and to explore avenues of your profession.
I like tool bags and pelican cases.
I've got a nice home depot Husky zip-top tool bag that holds my speed graphic and 8 film holders. When not carrying that, it holds 4 8x10 holders nicely. This weekend I rearranged it to carry 8 film holders, a bottle of sports drink, and my rolleiflex.
I've got a couple of pelican cases I've had forever and I just change the insides when needed. Once in a while something gets shipped in tougher closed cell foam, and I keep it and cut it out and hot glue it into the pelican case if I feel like rearranging things.
Take out all separators from your camera bags. Go to some tapestry shop. Buy a block of foam rubber (he'll give it for free, normally). Now cut the foam rubber so as to create lodgings for the configuration you are having difficulties in placing in your bag. The foam will embrace the gear from all sides. You can make more than one pad, one for each "configuration".
If your camera bag has a large pocket on the top (sometimes they have two, large outer pocket and large inner pocket) you put all the minutiae in those pockets. If you don't need the side and front pockets, you can pad them with foam rubber as well, to increase shock resistance.
You will have just a little "slack". With ordinary configurations, with separators, one always "wastes" the space around the lens, because the camera is larger than the lens. One might put the camera on its side, but this stresses a bit the lens, and lens mount. By using foam rubber you can exploit the space at best, for instance placing even three cameras with zooms near each other (alternating where the body is, up - down - up) and you can take very little place for RF, lightmeters etc.
And you are right: camera bags are NEVER the right size or volume. I will have to buy an intermediate one, as I have two "too big" ones, and then two too small ones.
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I own several camera bags but I always seem to be struggling to find a type and a size that really suits what I like to carry on every occasion.
I recently approached a new-ish bag / rucksack manufacturer with a few ideas and, as a very pleasant surprise, I've been asked to join their product development team to design a small range of customisable bags to suit a variaty of situations.
For obvious reasons, I can't go into any details but I'm really looking forward to the challenge and having access to a bag that I can truly call my own. But then again, I won't be able to moan about it when I can't quite get that extra lens in it or the tripod harness isn't quite in just the right place.......bugger!
Paul Jenkin (a late developer...)
Hmm, I like your suggestions, but since I don't have cabelas here in scandinavia, and I don't like camerabag-looking bags I think I will make my own. I have some dark blue pigleather, dark blue canvas and a whole lot of nylon thread, so it's just a matter of time (and finding a place with three phase...).
Thanks for your suggestions though.
A little off topic, but you can either purchase a phase converter (static or rotary) if you need three phase power from a single phase system. Many motors are also multipurpose and have different connections on their for different voltages and phases. An electrician could quickly advise you of your options.
I prefer my Kiev 88 hard case (the camera it came with has died long ago) with the compartments taken out. It's a pain to walk around with it for more than a few hours, but it looks decent and it holds everything I need. It's either the Kowa Six with 85mm + one other lens + some film or a 35mm SLR + film + lenses or flash and some filters and other small stuff. I just throw a small bean bag (well, rice bag for me) in there to provide a little softness and then everything on top in an elaborate system where every inch of space is used.
For a 35mm SLR or *coughs* dSLR, the standard bags are okay, but for everything else, you've got to get creative. One day I'll surely tailor something exactly to my needs, but currently I have neither the idea nor the materials for it. But when it's done, it's going to be the most awesome camera bag of all